Gronant can be an idyllic spot in the
summer. I remember my first stint as voluntary warden last June, arriving
early on a lovely sunny morning - two Grasshopper Warblers were singing in
the marsh whilst a male Stonechat saw me off its territory, as I approached
the warden's hut I suddenly became aware of the Little Tern colony, a
hundred or so were in the air screeching away before they left to go fishing
in the nearby sea - an amazing sight.
recently re-activated Clwyd Bird Recording Group have been working hard to
bring the Clwyd Bird Reports up to date, the last one was published as long
ago as 1992. This is the first of three reports, shortly to be followed by
the 1996 to 1998 and 1999 reports.
Clwyd is a varied county which not only has the Welsh shore of the Dee Estuary within its boundaries but also moorland, hill country, forest, rich farmland and the Irish Sea coast (for a more detailed description of Clwyd see my article on the Fat Birder's Web site). This range of habitats is reflected in the systematic species list which totals a creditable 238 and includes such rarities as Red-necked Grebe, Black Kite, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Bee-eater. I found it particularly useful to be able to compare three years' data so easily, and also fascinating to compare the data from the mid-nineties to what we are seeing now - for example only one Waxwing was seen over the whole three years!
Also in the report are five very interesting articles including 'The Shotton Phoenix' by Ron Plummer about the Shotton Paper Co. lagoons, 'Conservation on the Dee Estuary' and 'Little Terns at Gronant', the latter two both by Andrew Gouldstone then RSPB Assistant Warden on the Dee Estuary.
The report can be obtained from: Gareth Stamp, RSPB, Burton Point Farm, Station Road, Burton, Cheshire. Please enclose cheque for £2.00. You can ring Gareth on 0151 336 7681.
Please send your records for inclusion in future Clwyd Bird reports (including 2000) to the Clwyd County Recorder: Norman Hallas, 63 Park Avenue, Wrexham, LL12 7AW.
for Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by
the Wirral Ranger Service). 11th March.
Cormorant 5, Brent Goose 20, Shelduck 632, Teal 239, Mallard 9, Red-breasted Merganser 4, Oystercatcher 1,460, Knot 280, Snipe 6, Black-tailed Godwit 150, Curlew 755, Redshank 1825, Merlin, 2 Peregrine Falcon and Sparrowhawk. 3,000 Redshank seen a few days earlier before the big tides (Dave Wilde)
West Kirby high tide roost, highest count for March carried out by
Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens - 8th March.
No WeBS counts or count from Inner Marsh Farm this month due to Foot and Mouth restrictions.
March Bird News
excellent weekend of high tide birdwatching at
Parkgate during the spring high tides. For a change the tide came in
right up to the wall, an amazing sight - as the marsh by the wall is
slightly lower than the marsh further out the sea came in almost like a
breaking wave along the whole Parkgate sea-front. As for the birds - 5 Short
Eared Owls, 17+ Water Rail and 8+ Jack Snipe for starters!
As you can see from the table below the spring migration is well underway with some very early first sightings. Several species were earlier than last year with the first sighting of Willow Warbler particularly interesting, as far as I know this is the earliest time a Willow Warbler has been seen in Wirral. The bird was heard singing at the sand dunes by West Kirby after a day of mild southerly winds. Wheatears were ten days later than the previous two years.
Dates of earliest sightings. Locations for 2001.
* As small numbers of both Chiffchaff and Blackcap over winter in the area this is the date they were first heard singing.
Hilbre Island is usually a prime spot to see the spring migration and it is no different this year. Highlights included a remarkable 2 to 3,000 Meadow Pipits, 90 Great-crested Grebe, 18 Wheatear, 18 Grey Wagtail, 30 White Wagtail, a Ring Ouzel, an Iceland Gull and the first Sandwich Tern.
Other interesting sightings were 50 Wheatears at Meols, a Firecrest in Heswall, an Osprey near Mostyn and the first Gannet of the year on the 22nd off Hoylake. An unusual sight was a Woodcock on Hoylake beach, dropped by a passing Peregrine Falcon, the bird was both headless and breastless! My first sighting of a Common Buzzard over Stapledon Woods was further indication of this species remarkable increase in Cheshire and Wirral.
The Greenfield Valley bird survey continues, the total is now 63 birds. Click here for a complete list.
You might be interested in a new Webcam looking onto Hoylake Shore run by a local birder, Jane Turner. The picture isn't brilliant but at least you can tell if the tide is in or out, or whether it's cloudy or sunny. The thing of most interest is that next to the Webcam picture Jane gives regular updates of the birds she is seeing on the shore and in her garden.
What to expect in April: The numbers of waders and wildfowl on the estuary decrease rapidly during April as they make their way to their breeding grounds. However, we'll start to get waders on passage coming through, both this month and next. These are birds wintering to the south (the majority from France, Morocco and West Africa) on their way to Iceland and Greenland. The species involved are Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Sanderling and, to a lesser extent, Knot. They pass through quickly so the average density is low but if you get the day right some vast flocks can be seen.
The spring migration should become a torrent during April and as I write this we still wait for the first House Martin, Cuckoo, Swift and Common, Arctic and Little Terns. Don't forget to me if you happen to see an early arrival.
Many thanks go to Dave Wilde, John Jones, Alan Jupp, Brian Roberts, John Gittins, Jeff Clarke, Cathy McGrath, Mike Hart, Alec Cheney, John Kirkland, Bill Owens, Martyn Jaimeson, Chris Butterworth, Val Burnett, Nick Moss, Jane Turner, Christine Hawkswell, Paul Hurley, Paul Fitzpatrick, Wendy Allen, Phil Lovell and the Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens for their sightings during March. I rely on the goodwill of people like this, unlike some commercial sites I cannot offer financial inducements!
that some events may be cancelled because of the Foot and Mouth outbreak.
See latest news - click here.
April Highest Spring Tides
Note that the marsh at Parkgate may be covered when tide height is 9.8m or over, dependent on weather conditions. Low pressure with strong north-west wind will create higher than expected tide, high pressure with southerly wind means lower than expected tide.
Wirral Peregrines Phoenix Group
Wirral Bird Club
Forthcoming Events (organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service,
Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):
High tide bird watches at Parkgate and Heswall for the whole of 2001 are shown on the high tide birdwatch page. Always check latest newsletter for any additions or changes.
Saturday 7th April 9.00am (HW 11:39, 9.8m) Banks Road Birdwatch,
Saturday 7th April. Guided Walk to the
Sunday 8th April 2pm - 4pm. A Look at Trees in Spring.
Sunday 8th April 4:30pm - 8:30pm. Marine Biology Walk.
Saturday 14th April 6:00am. Early Risers on
Saturday 28th April 6:30pm. Bats & Birds Evening Special.
Saturday 5th May. Guided Walk to the Hilbre
Sunday 6th May. International Dawn Chorus Day.
Dawn Chorus over Thurstaston Common.
4.30am - 6.30am.
Songs in Stapledon Woods. 5am - 7am.
Sunday 6th May. Spring Migrants at Point of Ayr.
Friday 11th May. Warblers in the Evening. 6:30pm - 10:00pm.
Note: Many of these forthcoming events are extracted from 'Birdwatchers Diary 2001', which covers both the Dee and Mersey regions. Copies available from the visitor centre at Thurstaston, Wirral Country Park 0151 648 4371 or by from myself as a 1.8mb zipped file.